Six pathogens, throughout the history of biological warfare, have been considered the most deadly and therefore the most suitable as weapons: anthrax, botulinium, plague, smallpox, tularaemia and viral hemorrhagic fever(s), of these, only smallpox has no other known host, but humans.
Friday, February 7, 2014
Forgotten Weapons: Why Syria's Biological Weapons pose a far greater threat than it's chemical stockpile
Syria's chemical weapon arsenal suddenly emerged out of the shadows and was finally accepted by international non-proliferation and arms control advocates, who had long turned a blind eye to Syria's WMD. While chemical weapons pose an immediate risk to civilian populations and military personnel alike, they are limited munitions and do not spread beyond a calculated geographic theater. In contrast, biological weapons are living organisms with the potential to be highly infectious and highly transmissible. Syria's biological weapon complex is significant. It is not minor, nor can it be considered 'emerging.' It is technologically advanced and a review of the open literature cites several programs which tend to be the hallmark composition of BW programs. Most open source documents cite the primary location as the Scientific Studies Research Centre (SSRC) in Damascus with sections recently consolidated in Aleppo and Homs as the primary locations of Syria's bio-warfare research and development. Unlike old Soviet Biopreparat weapons which were stockpiled and relatively easy to identify, rapid advances in the life sciences has made stockpiling for the most part obsolete. This has had the unfortunate result of creating highly agile programs with very low identification markers. These advances make it far easier for a state to construct a biological weapon infrastructure throughout legitimate research institutes. It also makes it easier for states to provided biological weapons to would be state sponsored terrorist organizations. The threat of Syria's biological weapon programs far exceeds that of it's now divested chemical weapon arsenal.
Syria's BW programs pose a risk to the international community as a whole. The spread of disease through communities with little or no public health infrastructure puts us all at risk.